Institutional Infrastructure for Broader Impacts Engagement – Showcasing Effective Strategies and Approaches from a Large Research Institute
Abstract:The need for robust scientific and especially climate literacy is increasing. Funding agencies mandate that scientists make their findings and data publically available. Ideally, this mandate is achieved by scientists and educators working together to translate research findings into common knowledge.
The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) is the largest research institute at the University of Colorado and home institute to over 500 scientists. CIRES provides an effective organizational infrastructure to support its scientists in broadening their research impact. Education specialists provide the necessary experience, connections, logistical support, and evaluation expertise to develop and conduct impactful education and outreach efforts.
Outreach efforts are tailored to the project needs and the scientists’ interests. They span from deep engagement efforts with a high time commitment by the scientist thus a high dosage to short presentations by the scientists that reach many people without stimulating a deep engagement and have therefore a low dosage. We use three examples of current successful programs to showcase these different engagement levels and report on their impact: i) deep transformative and time-intensive engagement through a Research Experience for Community College students program, ii) direct engagement during a teacher professional development workshop centered around a newly developed curriculum bringing authentic climate data into secondary classrooms, iii) short-time engagement through a virtual panel discussion about the state of recent climate science topics, the recordings of which were repurposed in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
In this presentation, we discuss the challenges and opportunities of broader impacts work. We discuss successful strategies that we developed, stress the importance of robust impact evaluation, and summarize different avenues of funding outreach efforts.